FDNY concerns over fast-tracking building inspections for Hudson Yards

December 5, 2023
FDNY Bronx New York Fire fighters

FDNY official raises alarm over prioritizing Hudson Yards inspections

A senior official in the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) raised concerns over the fast-tracking of fire safety inspections at Hudson Yards, warning that prioritizing the mega-development could delay inspections for over a dozen other buildings.

Deputy Chief Brian Cordasco voiced his concerns in an internal email, highlighting the unfairness towards applicants who had been waiting weeks for their inspections and the difficulty this would pose for Fire Alarm Inspectors (FAI)​​.

City Hall’s role in prioritizing Hudson Yards

The decision to fast-track inspections at Hudson Yards, a prominent real estate development, originated from the Office of the Fire Commissioner, as a top priority from City Hall.

Deputy Chief Kevin Murphy confirmed this in an email, acknowledging the potential backlash from property owners whose inspections would be delayed or canceled as a result​​.

Allegations of favoritism and the DMO list

Joseph Jardin, former chief of the Bureau of Fire Prevention, alleged in court filings that City Hall exerted pressure on the FDNY to move favored entities to the top of inspection lists.

These lists, sometimes labeled “DMO” for the Deputy Mayor of Operations, reportedly included major donors to Mayor Eric Adams and prominent real estate developers.

Mayor Adams and his deputy mayor of operations, Meera Joshi, denied the existence of such a list or favoritism towards big developers​​.

Investigation into FDNY’s prioritization practices

Jardin’s attorney claimed that the FBI had been contacted regarding the FDNY favoring entities with connections to City Hall.

This includes allegations related to campaign donations and their potential influence on the prioritization of fire inspections​​.

The impact of prioritizing Hudson Yards

In response to Cordasco’s concerns about the unfairness of expediting inspections for Hudson Yards, Luis Martinez, a special advisor to Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh, sent a “Priorities list update” with Hudson Yards at the top.

The move by Hudson Yards’ executives to lobby top administration officials for prioritization was noted, highlighting the connection between political contributions and favoritism in city processes​​.

FDNY’s response and current inspection rate

When queried about the prioritization of Hudson Yards over other projects, the FDNY declined to comment.

However, a spokesperson noted that the department was conducting fire alarm inspections 33% faster than the previous year, and the Department of Buildings was completing various inspections within four days​​.

FSJA Comment

The FDNY’s prioritization of fire safety inspections at Hudson Yards, as reported by THE CITY, raises important questions about the balance between development priorities and equitable city services.

This scenario underscores the potential conflicts that can arise when large-scale developments, backed by significant political and financial influence, are allegedly given precedence over smaller projects.

The allegations suggest a possible undermining of standard protocols in favor of influential entities, raising concerns about transparency and fairness in city governance.

The implications of such practices are far-reaching, affecting not only the real estate industry but also public trust in governmental institutions.

This situation highlights the need for a more transparent and equitable approach to managing city resources and services, ensuring that all entities, regardless of their size or influence, receive fair and timely attention.

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